History - Parish Records.
To the family historian, there are no more important finding aids than the
church (parish) records. A parish church might have the records for just
one town, but in the country they would have been the administration unit
for several towns and villages. Many parish records may go back as far
as the 16th century, but few go further.
The parish records are normally comprised of three separate registers, one
each for baptisms, marriages, and deaths. You may even be lucky enough
to find a personal note in the register written by the cleric about an
individual event. In my opinion, few things bring you closer to your ancestors
than the parish registers.
The original registers are now mainly held in the archives local to the church.
If you are not sure where the archives are, then ask at the local library,
council offices, or town hall.
Once again, if you have an uncommon name, then your search will be far simpler
than if you are a Smith or a Jones. Be sure to check an entire register
before claiming a record as your 'own'. There is nothing worse when tracing
your family history, than to start tracing an ancestor that turns out not
to be yours. The golden rule in genealogy is to check, and then check again.
Essentially, the I.G.I. is a transcription of these registers,
but due to the large number of transcription errors, are certainly no substitute
for the original records.
Unless you are prepared, and have the spare time to spend long periods in the
archives, then do first check to see whether the records have been transcribed
by a local family history society. They are
normally available fairly cheaply, and you can then check them in your
own time. If you join your local family history society they may well have
the transcriptions available for you to search. The Genfair site sells
lots of transcribed parish registers, on behalf of the family history societies
- click on Websites.